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Thursday, 23 February 2017

My Dear Father Has Sadly Passed Away

💔

It is with huge sadness that I write to inform you all, that my dearest and beloved Father passed away peacefully, early this morning. The sadness is so immense it is too much to put into words.

I went to tap the sleep button on my alarm/phone this morning at 7.10am when it was ringing, but it wasn't the alarm – it was the manager Nigel Playford at Summerville House Care Home, ringing to inform me that my father had just passed away. I sobbed uncontrollably. He was fine at 5am when he was checked I was told, but when they checked him at 7am, he had died. This was a massive shock as this was unexpected. Ok, so we knew he probably wouldn't go on too much longer, but after his recent miraculous recovery, we didn't think it would happen quite yet.

After breaking the news to Vivien I left the house to go the care home in Heacham. I couldn't get hold of my Mother or Lucy at this point. No day is a good day, but for this to happen with 80mph+ winds, this was crap. I was sobbing all the way to Heacham – on hindsight it was pretty stupid of me to drive, but I made it. A wonderful paramedic who had attended earlier, was waiting in the car park for me to arrive and came with me into the home and stayed with me – so kind. Stating the obvious, I was in a mess when I saw my Father – yes I have seen people deceased in the hospital before, but its a whole different ball game when its your family. He looked like he had passed away peacefully to me and I just hope that he did. Although it was traumatic, I'm glad I saw him before he was taken away – I was on my own for a few minutes and just held him. A policeman arrived, which they have to do in these circumstances, when someone dies unexpectedly. The policeman was called 'Richie' and he was one of the nicest people I have ever met – he was so kind. Because I had tried to ring my Mother several times as had Vivien, I suddenly had a phone call from her whilst I was with Father, so had to tell her over the phone – I then immediately left to be with her. My Mother, decided she couldn't bare seeing him like this and I'm glad she didn't. The policeman explained that he would now ring the Coroner to inform them as the GP would not sign the death certificate because he had not seen Father in the last 14 days (this is normal practice I found out), so the coroner has to sign this etc.

Richie, the policeman went beyond the call of duty and came out to visit my Mother and I a short while later and spent ages with us, explaining everything that would happen next – this gave us huge support and I can't thank him enough. If the coroner feels that father died through natural causes he will sign the death certificate, but if not, there will have to be a post-mortem. The coroner will ring us today or tomorrow Richie told us (they have not yet), so maybe tomorrow. When all above is carried out we can choose a funeral directors (which will be John Lincoln in Hunstanton) to arrange everything. He told us that my Father has been taken to the mortuary in the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, until he is moved to our chosen funeral directors.

Vivien and Ray arrived shortly after this with Lucy. Ray (Vivien's partner) very kindly drove separately in front of Vivien to make sure she was ok, because of the gale force winds – it had been a horrendous journey for them and they had passed a good number of fallen trees on route from Ely and one branch hit the roof of Vivien's car, when she picked Lucy up on route – this crap day could have been so much worse!!! Also Vivien had been booked into the garage this morning to check her brakes out!!! I have never been impressed with any of Vivien's past boyfriends, but she has a good one at long last and Ray was hugely supportive to us all today, he gets a 10 out 10 from me and I don't dish those out lightly!

We have obviously been very upset all day. I know I shouldn't be thinking this, but I can't and won't get it out of my head – I last saw my Father with Mother on Thursday evening last week on the 16th February – I told him I would see him at the weekend and I didn't go. Neither did I go at the beginning of this week. However, Vivien had visited him on Saturday and she said that he was very sleepy, but did seem to rouse a little when she told him about the all the money I helped to raise for the NOA window fund. I phoned last night to see how he was and I was told that he had been shouting that he wanted to go home this week, but was quieter yesterday.  I had planned to go and see him this evening, straight after work and help him with his tea – I have been really upset about this all day. Mother and I both concluded that the reason he was asking to go home (he has not said this for a good while now) was because he wanted to die at home.

Through all this immense sorrow, my Father has had an amazing, fascinating life and achieved so much. I am so pleased that he reached his 90th birthday on the 2nd November and that I am thankful for. He has had no life at all really since he had his first stroke – everything stopped for him and then developing macular degeneration, resulting in blindness and becoming immobile – it couldn't get much worse. He was just waiting to depart and now he has and will now at last be at peace. I just hope he is amongst lots of beautiful birds up there in the clouds. My memories of him over my 52 years are golden, so many magical and special times of the dearest Father in the world. A Father who dedicated his life to natural history and really should have had an MBE for dedicating seven days a week for 33 years at Holme Bird Observatory and so many other things that few know about. A Father I adored, who was so kind, so sweet, so funny, so witty, so crafty, so clever and so stubborn!

I can't write any more as the tears are rolling, so will sign off now. I pen the last words of this post in green, my Father's favourite colour. All the heligoland traps at the observatory were painted in green, the framework and door of the observatory were painted green, the signs around the reserve were in green – he loved green! Good night.

Rest in Peace My Dearest Father

My love for you will be entwined with your soul forever xxx


Your life has now faded into the clouds

But my joyful memories of you will always be in the blue skies at Holme

Peter Robert Clarke
2nd November 1926 – 23rd February 2017
 

48 comments:

  1. My father still speaks kindly of 'Clarkey' at Holme in many years ago. RIP

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  2. Very sorry for your loss Penny....with all that you wrote about him in your blog, it feels like I knew him too. Time will ensure you smile each time you think of him. Best wishes. Paul.

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  3. So sorry for your loss, i've only been reading your blog for the past year or so but it's clear your father was a wonderful man. Pam

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  4. Sorry to hear your sad news Our thoughts are with you and your family
    Steve and Wendy

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    1. Thanks Steve and Wendy. Best Wishes Penny

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  5. Our thoughts are with you and your family

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  6. Penny, I'm so very sorry for your loss. I knew your father for nearly 30 years and he was an inspiration that will never fade. Sadly missed. Jim

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  7. Penny, very sorry to hear your sad news, 90 is a great age and I would look at it as a celebration of a long life well lived at this sad time.

    Thinking of you

    Steve BF x

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    1. Thank you Steve – Best Wishes Penny

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  8. Sorry for your loss Penny x RIP Peter

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  9. Deepest sympathy for you and your family. I have never met you, but have read your blogs for some time now. Having been in a similar position to yourself some years ago, I know that you could not have done more for you Father than you did, and I am sure that he could not have had a more caring daughter that he had, and no doubt, he knew that also. Very best wishes to you all. Gordon

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    1. Thank you Gordon for your kind words – Best Wishes Penny

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  10. A fellow birder who lives on the south coast.
    Enjoys and follows your blog is very sad for your loss, and the loss for our great hobby too x.

    Birdnerdmick.

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    1. Thank you Michael – Best Wishes Penny

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  11. My condolences to you and your family. I still remember my first of many visits to Holme and meeting your father (due in no small part to his Birdwatching Magazine articles), and enjoyed sitting outside the observatory with him talking birds and wildlife.

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  12. So sorry for your loss Penny, I was lucky enough to meet your father in the 1980's at Holmes and know what an inspirational person he was. Your blog has kept me up to date with recent events. RIP.

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  13. Sad news Penny, hopefully in a birding paradise.

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    1. Birding paradise sounds nice, thank you – Best Wishes Penny

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  14. So sorry to read your news Penny. Sincere condolences to you and your family. As Paul said earlier, time is a great healer and your father does not have to suffer further. Thinking of you. Best wishes, Jim

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    1. Thank you Jim for your kind words – Best Wishes Penny

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  15. So sorry to read your sad news Penny, sincere condolences to you and your family. At least he did not have to suffer further. Time is a great healer and you have a lot to be proud of your father's achievements. Thinking of you. Best wishes, Jim

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  16. So very sad Penny. Your blog regarding your Father has been both eloquent and heart wrenching. I can't recall ever meeting him but certainly know of his reputation and the high esteem he was held in the birding world. It is obvious from what you have written that you have so many good memories of him and these will surely help through this sad time. RIP Peter.

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    1. Thank you John for your kind words – Best Wishes Penny

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  17. i have become a regular reader of your comments and like Paul l almost feel like i knew him well , he did so much for wildlife in North Norfolk and he was someone who devoted so much of his time learning and sharing his knowledge. Having been through your situation 17 years ago i often have flashbacks of the good times with my dad even now, it still gives me great strength to face any challenges. Your father taught you to appreciate the beauty around you and this is what you still share with all of us on a regular basis, from a very appreciative Norfolk Broads boy. Please continue your excellent work.

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    1. Thank you Nick for your kind words – Best Wishes Penny

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  18. I never met you or your dad, but I have shared your dedication to your Dad and Mum and the family love of birds. Hope I might meet you some time when we come to Norfolk
    Be at peace now, all of you
    May he, and the rest of you , be at peace now.

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    1. Thank you for your kind words – Best Wishes Penny

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  19. A huge thank you for so many beautiful messages I have received for my family and I. Both on this post, via email, twitter, facebook and Birdforum – all of these messages have been hugely supportive and so beautifully written and several have reduced me to tears. Thank you all so much – Love & Best Wishes Penny x

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  20. Peter told me off in 1982 for driving up the track too fast (the dust cloud was a giveaway) to see a RB Shrike at the Obs. I deserved it! What a fantastic birdman he was...and what a ļovely legacy he has left us.

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    1. Love that story! Thank you! I had a dust cloud behind me for Holme's first Red-flanked Bluetail!

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  21. Dear Penny and family
    I've been reading your blog for the last couple of years. Thoughts and prayers with you all at this sad time. No more suffering for your dearest Dad. I'm sure he is flying high with his beloved birds.
    Julie

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    1. Thank you for your kind words Julie, Best Wishes Penny

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  22. Belated condolences to you Penny. Having lost both my parents just a few years ago I can imagine what you must be going through. I send my best wishes to you.

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    1. Thank you Des, sorry for your loss, its so hard to hard to deal with.

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  23. So saddened to unexpectedly read of the death of Peter Clarke. As a teenage birder, Peter and Richard Richardson were hugely influential during my trips to North Norfolk. Peter asked me to represent NOA at the first Richard Richardson Award (SWLA) at the Mall Galleries. I'll never forget ... Nigel

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    1. Thank you so much for your kind words Nigel. Best Wishes Penny

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  24. So sorry to hear of your loss. I did not know your father sadly but have just read - and been moved to tears by - your posts, and by your bravery in writing so honestly about your feelings and the ridiculous bureaucracy death brings (registering my mother's death I had a moment of inappropriate laughter when I was asked 'how many death certificates' as like you I was quite unprepared for the question. She had also died on a stormy autumn day and we had to dodge the fallen trees). I'd seen your posts about the lovely ways you marked your father's 90th birthday in the home. Having lost my own father just after his 91st birthday in 2014 I really feel for you. But it sounds as if you have wonderful support from your sisters and you seem like such a good team supporting your mother. Your ideas for a special goodbye in a place that means so much seem so very fitting. I wish you and your family peace and healing as you continue to remember a life well-lived. @caracalj

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    1. Thank you so much for your kinds words, much appreciated. Best Wishes Penny

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